Short and Long Term Goals

Phase One: Build the Plan

Six weeks of intensive sessions to create guiding documentation that establishes strong foundations
  • Learn from an experienced creative business owner and a team of business management experts
  • Outline, understand, and answer the fundamental questions shaping your creative business
  • Define the operational and financial goals to move toward in Phase Two with ongoing CBA support

Phase Two: Start the Plan

Six months of steady action to access capital, space, markets, peers, workforce, and guidance for growth
  • Partner with CBA team members and creative business coaches to make meaningful progress
  • Pursue the space, capital, and workforce needs to scale, sustain, and have social impact in your community
  • Tackle challenges and breakdown barriers holding your creative business back from success


The guidance will be delivered by experts in business fundamentals (business coaches) as well as experienced creative business owners (peer mentors). The 10 participating entrepreneurs will work closely with business coaches and peer mentors to hone the skills needed to build sustainable and impactful creative businesses. First Leap will culminate in a virtual exhibition/event where participants will articulate their plans for growth and highlight the products that will get them there. The CBA will then work with the participants over a 6-month period to help their goals become reality and promote their products.

Application open January 1 - January 24, 2021

Program Facilitator

Wendy Downs

Moop | Owner, Designer, and Maker

Moop designs and manufactures handcrafted bags at its downtown Pittsburgh, PA studio storefront. Driven by a desire to find well-made, everyday goods, Wendy Downs founded Moop in 2007. Her motivation was a failed experiment in making her own clothing and that simple sewing mistake turned into Moop’s signature Market Bag. Wendy believes in quality, integrity, and equity in manufacturing. Moop exemplifies these principles, producing a collection of durable, handcrafted bags.

As the core facilitator for First Leap, Wendy will bring her deep experience and expertise, from small-batch manufacturing to artisan branding to team building HR, to program participants.  

Program Parameters


  • Identifies as an artist, maker, designer, craftsperson, and/or small-batch manufacturer *
  • Aspires to become a fulltime creative business owner
  • At least one year of business and/or product development
  • Located in western Pennsylvania or northern West Virginia
  • Participating or willing to participate in CBA
  • Willing to complete pre- and post-program surveys

* Please visit PG&H for samples of creative business types that would likely realize the most success in First Leap.


  • Minority, women, and/or veteran-owned creative businesses
  • Creative businesses operating in low to moderate income areas
  • Creative businesses with evidence of and/or aspirations for social impact
    • Creating quality jobs
    • Reactivating postindustrial spaces
    • Revitalizing Main Street corridors
    • Elevating underserved populations

Session Timeline & Topics

Session 1: Who is the Maker?

Wednesday, February 3, 2021 | 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. 

  • Unpack your goals for starting/growing a creative business
  • Develop/hone a business concept around your creative output
  • Start business plan outline for your business concept

Session 2: What is the product?

Wednesday, February 10, 2021 | 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. 

  • Understand your creative output (products and services)
  • Explore how your product can build a business
  • Outline foundational operations of your business

Session 3: What is the business?

Wednesday, February 17, 2021 | 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. 

  • Conduct SWOT analysis on your business concept
  • Understand your key financial statements and projections
  • Identify and pursue proper legal business entities

Session 4: Who is the customer?

Wednesday, February 24, 2021 | 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

  • Identify and articulate your target customer types
  • Develop and deliver your value propositions
  • Select marketing strategies to reach those customer types

Session 5: What is the market?

Wednesday, March 3, 2021 | 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. 

  • Select/focus on a B2B and/or B2C strategy
  • Explore appropriate marketing tactics and sales channels
  • Outline next 3 to 6 months of marketing and sales activities

Session 6: What is the plan?

Wednesday, March 10, 2021 | 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Share a business plan outline presentation that answers:

  • What is your product?
  • What is your business?
  • What are your goals?
  • How will it grow?
  • What are next steps?
  • How will you start?
  • What does success/progress look like?


The First Leap represents a new collaboration between two of the most effective organizations in the creative economy. The Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship (CWE) at Chatham University creates economic opportunities for women by providing high quality entrepreneurial counseling, education, and training for women entrepreneurs. The Creative Business Accelerator program (CBA) at Bridgeway Capital, a nonprofit social impact investor, empowers regional artists makers, designers, and craftspeople to grow their businesses in ways that support equitable economic development. Still have questions?

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